Our guide and service dog programs were created to provide enhanced mobility and renewed independence to veterans and first responders with disabilities, allowing them to once again live without boundaries. All of our services are provided at no charge.
William Fisher, Jr., 35, is the son of a Marine, so when he turned 18, he says, "It was my place to go next. I was born to it; I grew up with it." In fact, Will had already enlisted via the Delayed Entry Program, which allows someone to enlist and choose a future date to report for duty. Will was deployed to Iraq again in 2009. During a mission he fell 40 feet from a ladder and landed standing up, with the weight of the fall on his right side. The talus bone in his ankle was crushed, and he was medevacked to Landstuhl, Germany. He spent three weeks in Germany while doctors tried to fix his ankle; if they could, he would return to his unit. However, he ended up having to return to the United States for treatment. "I hated being sent home and leaving my team, my 'family,'" he says.Will first learned of America's VetDogs while undergoing rehabilitation therapy at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. His occupational therapist thought a service dog might prove helpful with some of his balance issues. "I was told that I would be a good candidate because I had counterbalance issues when walking with gait, and was told that a service dog would be able to help, " says Fisher. "That's what got me interested in the VetDogs program." In addition to balance and helping him walk a straight line, Lyla will open and close doors, retrieve dropped items, including his prosthetic leg. She has even been trained to pull his wheelchair to him if he falls.